Wednesday, August 15, 2018

The Palestinian sprinter who dreams of Olympic gold for his country

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By Henry James - April 03, 2018
TAGS:
Section: [Main News] [IN PICTURES]
Tags: [sport] [Olympics Games]

Mohamed Al-Khatib is a 28-year-old athlete born and raised in Hebron. Currently, he is living in Ramallah and working as a yoga and fitness instructor. But his dream is bigger, he wishes to bring the first Olympic medal for Palestine. 

Al-Khatib studied sociology and anthropology in Birzeit university. Since 2012, he started competing in track-and-field. His specialities are sprint, 100m, 200m and 400m.
 
Recently, he launched a crowdfunding campaign in order to train for the 2020 Olympics which has already reached 95% of its $10,500 goal.
 
His goals to compete in the Olympics started in 2014, when he met Coach Bill Collins, a decorated sprinter, who saw potential in Al-Khatib’s hard work and generously agreed to train him for 7 months in the U.S prior to the Rio 2016 Olympics. With the help of his family and friends, he launched his first crowdfunding campaign to sponsor his training in Texas.
 
“I was overwhelmed by the support I got from the campaign in 2015. My time in Houston [Texas] helped me to make drastic improvements to my 100m and 200m runs, and more importantly, strengthened my resolve and determination to represent Palestine on the international arena,” Al Khatib told Palestine Monitor.
 
Six years later, he is still out on the track every day - with Tokyo 2020 as his new goal.
 
“My experience in the U.S. affirmed that my dream is possible. It came a little too late to qualify for Rio, but I now have Tokyo in my sights and I am so lucky to have been offered another golden opportunity,” Al-Khatib explained.
 
A facility in Mainz, Germany, has offered to host him and give him the professional training he needed to get him to the qualifying time required by the Olympic standards.
 
Al Khatib told Palestine Monitor a lot of sports in Palestine don’t have the facilities to train. The Israeli occupation and the lack of means are a barrier for many athletes wanting to become professional.
 
This didn’t stop Al Khatib.
 
“It definitely gave me more strength and boosted me to run harder. I want to inspire others to fulfil their dreams regardless in what field of life they are, whether art, science or sports.”
 
Al Khatib is also volunteering at the Juvenile detention center in Ramallah. He gives the kids classes and wants to help them as much as possible.
 
“I want them to believe in their dreams,” Al Khatib added.
 

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